The North Coast of California has beautiful redwoods and small coastal towns. It stretches along the Pacific from the Bay Area to the Oregon border. The inland valleys of Mendocino County are a significant wine-growing area, and the region is noted for organic produce and its art community. Recreation opportunities for hiking, birdwatching, boating, kayaking, fishing, horseback riding and simple sightseeing abound. For those with more urban tastes, art galleries, winetasting, and upscale restaurants are plentiful. Working harbors at Fort Bragg and Eureka offer opportunities for whale-watching, crabbing tours, ocean fishing and the chance to buy fresh salmon right from the boat. Even a simple drive along any road in this region is a refreshing experience.
|Del Norte County |
California's northernmost county is known for its rivers, rocky coast, and redwood forests. It is where the famous footage of Bigfoot was captured on film in 1967, and became the home of the Ewoks when portions of Return of the Jedi were filmed in the county in 1982. Visitors today won't want to miss Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, where an easy stroll among thousand year-old redwoods in Stout Grove is sure to refresh the soul. There are two historic lighthouses that were built in the mid-1800s near Crescent City, one of which is accessible at low tide via a short hike. Wildlife enthusiasts will enjoy the many protected areas in the county, where herds of Roosevelt elk, sea lions, seals, whales, and 431 species of birds can all be seen.
|Humboldt County |
Rural Humboldt County is a land of giant trees, seaside mountains, and quirky towns. Redwood National Park lies in the county's northern region and is home to the world's tallest trees; a walk among the redwoods is an experience that won't soon be forgotten. Backpackers will delight in hiking the remote 25 mile Lost Coast Trail in the county's southwestern corner, a three-day trek through the Kings Range along a roadless and undeveloped section of rugged coastline. For those looking for more urban activities, the towns of Arcata and Eureka feature an impressive number of Victorian homes that date back to the late 1800s.
|Lake County |
Rural Lake County is named after Clear Lake, a body of water that is believed to be 2.5 million years old and thus the oldest lake in North America. The lake is sometimes called the "Bass Capital of the West", and its 100 miles of shoreline offer ample opportunity for fishing, boating, swimming and birdwatching. The county is also home to the Clear Lake Volcanic Field, a region that includes lava domes, cinder cones, the 4,305 foot tall volcano Mount Konocti, and the world's largest geothermal field with more than twenty geothermal power plants.
|Mendocino County |
Lying halfway between San Francisco and the Oregon border, Mendocino County boasts redwood forests, wineries, breweries, and remote, untouched coastline. In addition to its natural features, the county is home to the largest Buddhist Temple in the Western Hemisphere, the 400+ acre City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in Ukiah. The Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, located near Fort Bragg, is a 47 acre public garden with oceanside views. While hikers and backpackers will find no shortage of options, those looking for less strenuous ways to enjoy the scenery can ride the Skunk Train, a railroad that has been in operation since 1885 and takes riders 40 miles through old growth forests and across historic trestles between Fort Bragg and Willits.
|Sonoma County |
Although its wineries may not be as famous as those in the Napa Valley, Sonoma County is actually the largest wine producer in California Wine Country and home to over 250 wineries. More than seven million visitors each year explore the county's open spaces and beautiful coastline, including the big trees at Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve and the seaside town of Bodega Bay where Alfred Hitchcock's thriller The Birds was filmed. For those interested in early California history, Fort Ross is a state historic site that preserves a fur trading outpost that was operated by Russia from 1812-1841.
- 1 Fort Ross State Historic Park, 19005 Coast Highway One in Fort Ross (12 miles north of Jenner on Hwy 1). 10AM–4:30PM daily. Historic Russian outpost located on Historic Highway 1. Northern California was once claimed by the Russian empire, and Fort Ross was a settlement to support Russian fur traders. You can walk around the old fort and along miles of trails to the old cemetery and orchard. Some trails are challenging for people with mobility limitations, and all of them can be wet and windy. The museum offers cultural and historical information about the Russian, Alaskan, and Kashaya people who lived and traded in northern California. Picnic tables and wheelchair-accessible restrooms. No food is sold at the park. Fishing is permitted, and scuba divers can explore the wreck of the S.S. Pomona and collect shellfish (check warnings about seasonal marine biotoxins first). Tours of the fort are available in Russian and English. The Reef campgrounds closed in 2018, but there are multiple camping facilities within a short drive or bike ride, including at the nearby Salt Point State Park (8 miles north) and Sonoma Coast State Park (15 miles south). $8 per vehicle.
- 1 Mendocino National Forest -
- 2 Redwood National Park - Ancient coast redwood ecosystem preserved in the park contains some of the planet's most majestic forests
English is widely spoken and understood. Spanish is a minority language but not spoken as much as in the rest of the state.
United Express flies into the Arcata-Eureka airport, near McKinleyville. United offers service from Denver International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, and San Francisco International Airport.
There are various Amtrak terminals on the North Coast but none go north of the Eureka area.
Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air, American Eagle, and United Express flies from Santa Rosa (STS) direct to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Denver International Airport, Las Vegas, Los Angeles International Airport, Orange County (CA), Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Portland (OR), San Francisco International Airport, and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
There are taxi cab companies, shuttles, and buses that provide public transportation.
Crescent City is home to Ocean World. This is an aquarium similar to Sea World (but much smaller).
Klamath is where the Trees of Mystery park is located. In addition to the actual trees, there is a statue of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox.
There are three drive-thru redwood trees. One is the Chandlier Tree in Leggett. This is north of Laytonville, near the Highway 101 and Highway 1 junction.
The other two are located in Myers Flat (a town on the Avenue of the Giants)and Klamath (a town south of Crescent City).
There is a Redwoods National Park and a Redwoods State Park. Avenue of the Giants is a road that runs alongside of Highway 101. It takes you through or near the following towns: Phillipsville, Miranda, Myers Flat, Weott, Redcrest, and Pepperwood. Many of the businesses that cater to tourists close after the summer tourist season. Phone ahead to verify opening dates and times.
Confusion Hill is near Piercy. This is a tourist attraction similar to the many so-called, "Mystery Spots."
Goat Rock Beach on Highway 1 between Jenner and Bodega Bay is a particularly scenic spot on the Sonoma Coast. There are many public beaches in this area, but most are too treacherous for swimming.
The Alexander Valley, Anderson Valley, Napa Valley, Dry Creek, and Russian River wine regions are all a day trip from Santa Rosa. There are hundreds of wineries, with tasting fees ranging anywhere from free to $20 and up. While most of the tourist-heavy wineries in Napa charge for a taste, many of the smaller operations in Sonoma and Mendocino counties do not.
Violent crime is low because the population is small on the North Coast. The usual safety precautions should be exercised.